PLATTSBURGH — New federal regulations will force the City of Plattsburgh to buy a batch of new fire hydrants at a cost of nearly $40,000.
“This is just another regulation we have to deal with,” City Superintendent of Public Works Mike Brodi said.
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new regulations requiring replacement of inventoried fire hydrants that contain lead components.
The mandate is part of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act of 2011. Initially, bathtub and shower parts and fire hydrants were not included, but the EPA just recently issued its interpretation of the act, and it included hydrants due to the rare occurrence that they provide drinking water, according to a news release from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s office.
As of Jan. 4, 2014, municipalities must replace their fire-hydrant inventories with compliant models. Existing ones in use are not subject to the new regulations.
Schumer said the mandate is not reasonable, and he is calling for the EPA to extend more time to municipalities to make the replacements.
“In the final seconds of the game, the EPA has released guidance for a 2011 law and applied unexpected standards to fire hydrants,” he said in a statement.
“The EPA’s absurd interpretation of the reduced lead standards will force municipalities to throw out and replace their current stockpile of fire hydrants, without any discernible safety benefit.”
Brodi said the city has 18 fire hydrants in stock, and each one cost between $1,800 and $2,000.
He has a program to replace some of the 527 hydrants in the city each year little by little but did not plan on getting rid of all of his inventory and buying replacements for 2014.
“I don’t even know what we would do with them,” he said.
“Hopefully, the feds would buy them back at a reduced price or something.”
Brodi said there are some fittings on some of the city fire hydrants that contain lead, but because of the design of the system, water actually rarely touches them.
“I think there are other things they can concentrate on in terms of water quality than fire hydrants,” he said.
Mayor Donald Kasprzak said the EPA’s last-minute decree is not sitting well with him.
“These unexpected guidelines for fire hydrants is an over-reaction by the EPA and is going to cost taxpayers unnecessarily,” he said.
“I concur with Sen. Schumer that this needs to be delayed and studied further before anymore over-reaction by the EPA.”
FEW IN RESERVE
The new regulations affect every municipality, but typically it is only the larger cities that have a lot of hydrants in reserve, explained Scott Stoddard, director of Water/Wastewater Utilities for the Town of Plattsburgh.
The town maintains hydrants for the towns of Beekmantown and Schuyler Falls, as well, under contract. Among the three towns, there are about 800 working hydrants, he said.
“But we don’t have a lot in inventory. Maybe one or two that we might have to scrap,” Stoddard said.
When a hydrant gets hit by a car or a plow, crews can usually repair them, he said.
“We can order a new one if we need to.”
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